Two members of CU Student Government felt the wrath of fellow representatives Thursday night after they testified in favor of a state-level gun bill without the blessing of other representatives.
Vice President of External Affairs Tyler Quick and President of Legislative Council Colin Sorensen gave support for Sen. Rollie Heath’s bill, HB 1226, banning concealed weapons on college campuses in Denver on Wednesday. Whether or not it was intentional, Sorensen thanked the House for letting them speak on behalf of the student government, though he had not consulted other members of the group on the testimony.
Sorensen said he did not realize he explicitly stated he was speaking for the group until Thursday evening and apologized after a heated Legislative Council meeting. Other members expressed alarm at finding out about the testimony first in the news.
“If you guys have the opportunity to speak on behalf of CUSG, then I should have that opportunity as well,” Rep. Alexis Scobie said.
Vice President of Internal Affairs Logan Schlutz said he would have appreciated a consent of opinion on the bill before being spoken for at the gun hearing.
“Times are changing and they’re marching on and no matter what the opinion is, we need to represent it together,” Schlutz said. “Nobody should say they represent everyone unless they talk with everyone.”
Quick said that the only thing the representatives owed apology for after the hearing was not reaching out to students more.
Quick and Sorensen agree, however, that a majority of CU Boulder students support a gun ban on campus, which is why they felt comfortable representing that sentiment at the state legislature, they said. Quick attested to a general unease that Boulder students and faculty have in regard to concealed weapons.
“What our basic argument was is, ‘This isn’t about gun rights,'” Quick said on Thursday. “What this is is it’s making faculty members feel unsafe and therefore less productive.”
At the hearing, the vice president brought up an accidental gun discharge on CU’s Anschutz Medical Campus in November, which injured the concealed-carry permit holder and another woman present. He also mentioned the signs hanging around the Boulder campus asking that concealed weapons not be brought into individual offices.
“When they’re scared, so are we,” Quick said in his testimony.
Sorensen argued that, based on an unofficial survey conducted by the Presidential Leadership Class in Boulder, the majority of the student population feels safer without concealed weapons on campus. He also told the state House about 2010 student government legislative activity that inadvertently supported CU’s then-gun ban, which was deemed unconstitutional by the state Supreme Court in March.
Rep. Justin Everett asked if Quick, Sorensen or Director of Legislative Affairs Julia Harrington, who accompanied them on Thursday, have seen any incidents of intimidation among students involving concealed weapons. Quick said that the general feeling on campus is fear more than intimidation.
“We’ve met with students with concealed weapons and we don’t pretend to represent their views at all today, but we are of the belief that most students [would] feel safer, not necessarily because of intimidation, if concealed weapons were banned from campus,” Quick said.
The bill cleared the House Education Committee on a party-line vote of 7-6, The Denver Post reports. It heads to the House Appropriations Committee next, before it hits the floor of the Democrat-controlled House and likely moves on to the Democrat-controlled Senate.
Listen to the Wednesday hearing here; CUSG representatives were the first to give testimony.
Contact CU Independent Copy Editor Alison Noon at Alison.firstname.lastname@example.org.